Tag Archive: real life


ImageI am currently enrolled in iversity’s Future of Storytelling.  My first assignment is to recall a story (written, heard or seen) that greatly impacted me.  After summarizing the story, I have to explain the context in which the story was important to me or influenced me.  Below is my response to this assignment.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is a children’s story that explains how a toy can become real through a child’s love.  The Velveteen Rabbit begins his stay in the nursery as the laughing-stock of all toys because he is an old-fashioned stuffed animal with no modern-day mechanics or tricks.  He actually sits neglected for a long while until he is used to replace the boy’s missing bedtime toy.  The boy becomes attached to the Rabbit and takes him everywhere.  The Rabbit becomes shabby in appearance but does not mind because the boy believes the Rabbit is “real”.  The boy becomes sick with scarlet fever and the doctors insist all the toys and bedding must be burned or thrown away, including the boy’s beloved bunny.  The Rabbit cries while mourning his fate.  The nursery fairy then appears and bestows upon him some magic to turn him into a “real” rabbit that he has seen in his forays into the forest with the boy.  The Velveteen Rabbit is overcome with joy at being able to run, hop and play with the other rabbits and still remain close to his boy.

I don’t know how old I was when I first read this story but I remember that I began to place a lot of sentimental value on all of my stuffed animals.   I did not drag my toys around or even play with them enough to lose their aesthetic value.  I did remember the occasion in which I acquired each animal and I used those toys as a never-ending bond to the giver of each one.  When I was twelve, I was in a car accident that required a hospital stay and subsequent surgeries.  I racked up quite a collection of stuffed toys during that three-year duration.  Even though I was well into my teens and had outgrown the security of my many plush toys, I refused to give them away or trash them.  I was emotionally invested in the toys merely because of the circumstances in which I received each one.  To me, they were all “real” in that they represented real people who had shown me real compassion at a time I needed it most.  In ridding my room of these toys, I felt I was dishonoring the memories of those that had loved me.  When at last I was married and acknowledged the need to sever my ties to these childish items, I passed them on lovingly to other children that I hoped would love them and make them “real” in their own hearts.

Conversation with Myself

I am doing something today that I never thought I would do.  I am going to share a very open, emotionally raw conversation I had with a photograph of myself, taken when I was 12.  I wrote this conversation as a form of therapy.  I wanted to acknowledge feelings of pain and loss in a safe environment.  But I am just now realizing that I am living life too safely.  I am not allowing people to get to know ME … I only allow those around me to get the fabricated strong, sometimes bitchy, version of who I am.  I feel as if I should apologize to those that will be uncomfortable with this post and most likely with some of my future posts.  But I can’t be sorry for being myself.  I am not perfect — not even close.  I don’t always make the wisest decisions. I sometimes hurt the people I love the most.  I am not always emotionally present in my children’s lives.  I often pull away from close friendships in an attempt to protect my heart and this 12-year old girl you are about to meet.  But maybe if I begin to open up, you will understand me better.  It doesn’t mean you will like me more (if at all) — but at least you can base your feelings for me on the truth.  

*In June 1985, I was in a car accident along with a very amazing woman and several courageous girls.  To those that were there that day — I hope this doesn’t upset you.  That is not my intention at all.  I value the friendships that have endured this trauma as well as all the years in between.  

Me: I can’t believe I’m actually talking to a photo of myself.

Photo: Why not? You always talk to yourself in your head.

Me: But this is different.  I’m talking to a 12 year old me. I don’t converse well with children.

Photo: That’s nothing new.  You always preferred to talk to adults, even as a child.

Me: It’s hard looking at the picture, you know? So many bad memories, so much sadness, a lot of anger.

Photo: How do you think I feel? You’ve grown up, found a new life.  I’m stuck in this pained, scarred, bleeding body.

Me: You are awfully brave, though. You have so much strength.

Photo: You’ve got a really bad memory.

Me: No, hindsight is 20/20. The strength you possess has really carried me through some tough times as an adult. If you weren’t suffering, then I would have never been able to become the person I am.

Photo: But you still have problems – problems that you blame on this accident.

Me: I do.  I have a lot of bitterness about being abandoned by the church and not having any close friends that stuck with me through that trauma. But I want to know what you’re feeling.

Photo: I hurt … all over. Every breath I take feels as if my ribs are splintering through my skin. My head is constantly throbbing and itching from the scabs. And I want to take these wire cutters and snip the wires between my teeth so I can open my mouth and EAT. I just want a French fry. And chocolate cake. And maybe a little steak. I don’t want to look like a freak show. And this horrible figure 8 brace.  If only I could figure out a way to shred it so I can sit hunched over and hold my stomach and sides and give myself some comfort.  I’m not finding comfort from a friend that is for sure. Are kids staying away because they don’t care or because their parents don’t want them to see how horrible I look?  The swelling is finally going down in my face – it’s no longer the size of a basketball. But the road rash is so disgusting. Mom is picking pieces of glass out of my skin several times a day. I can also smell the blood and oozing from the scars on my ear and face. I truly do feel like a freak.  It does get better, right?

Me: Yes, it does.  I mean, I have always doubted my beauty since the accident, but I’ve been told all females go through that. Dr. Peacock once told me that even the most beautiful women find flaws in their faces and bodies – that is how he became a very successful plastic surgeon.   Again, without what you are going through now — I wouldn’t be so lucky today. 

Me: So, have you had your 30 minutes of pity time today?

Photo: So what if I have? Like 30 minutes is enough time for a 12 year old to grieve for her old life back? To make peace with not having any friends here supporting me? For losing my dreams? So yeah – I’ve probably had 2 hrs. of pity time today so far.  But what Mom doesn’t know, won’t hurt her.

Me: I guess I should tell you now that the limited and dwindling pity time does you no favors in the future. It just teaches you to put on a mask around others and pretend that life is “just fine” when we know we’re drowning with no life preserver in sight on the inside. If I decide to write about you, what do you want everyone to know?

Photo: That having years of reconstructive surgery SUCKS! And I am so sick of hearing, “This happened for a reason. God has a plan for you.” Or even better, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle!” I know people mean well, but seriously, those words mean nothing right now. 

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Stranger Danger

I am a little upset with my friends that have been around me for the past five years.  Is there a reason none of you told me that I was completely sheltered as a stay-at-home mom to Luke?  Venturing forth into a “normal” life since Luke started kindergarten has been exhilarating, liberating and down right embarrassing.

Since the boys started school two weeks ago, I have only taken one day to “play”, meaning visits to Panera, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble to partake in my nasty writing habit.  It was during this spoil-me-rotten outing, that I was engaged in conversation with a 40’ish man with an infant.  In the past five years, I have not encountered a single stay-at-home Dad during my many public appearances with Luke. I was quite startled and attempted to nonchalantly answer the Dad’s questions as quietly and friendly as I could.   When it became apparent that I was not going to be allowed to easily escape this social trauma (where in the hell is Luke when I need him????), I found myself nervously looking around for the television cameras and stalker wife.  Then I found myself being compelled to speak to the cooing, smiling baby while drowning out his Dad (discussing political opinions with a complete stranger is on the very top of my personal DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT list).  As I was talking gibberish to this little baby donned only in a onesie, I touched him.  The baby, people, NOT the Dad.  I grabbed his adorable little toe, which made Baby laugh and Dad cringe.  I quickly drew back my hand but realized the sin had been committed.  The Dad continued to stare at my guilty hand as I attempted to hide it under my iPad.  The direction of the conversation changed dramatically as the Dad then began a commentary on the ills of today’s education system and the failings of many parents.   I was being subjected to a lecture of proper child management just because I touched his baby.  Relief coursed through me as I held my watch up for the Dad to see that I HAD to leave so I could pick up my wayward children from school and continue subjecting them to my horrifying and wayward parenting style.  

Why didn’t any of you warn me that I needed to take a refresher course in proper socialization skills before going forth into the world without a child in tow??  I think I will take Luke with me to B&N this coming week and introduce him to the Dad.  Ha!! Won’t he be impressed??  Bet that will teach the Dad to speak to strange women in bookstores!!